A COUNCILMAN IN ATLANTIS
It seems so unlikely that this life can be credited as having taken place - and yet, the sense of reality revisiting it engendered in me gives real credence to its reality.
In this life I am already a man, and have an important position as a member of the central council which makes the basic decisions for the state. It is a time of crisis for our civilization, faced with possible extinction from natural causes. I am acutely aware of both the difficulty and the importance of my position, because I am the only member of that body that opposes the government's urgent proposal to go in the direction of developing a complex system of technology to meet the very real challenges posed by the widely predicted onset of impending natural disaster.
Such a development means giving up the millennial course of long-standing tradition of democratic decision-making we have until this time been following, using the danger as a reason for this fundamental departure from our ancient tradition of shared decision-making. The reason this old way of making decisions must be abandoned in favor of a new system of purely technocratic decision-making governed from the top is given by those in power as the extensive planned use of technology to solve all our ecological problems as well as the financial and socio-economic ills which are already beginning to appear.
I oppose this decision because it is based on a power structure which excludes women from the decision-making process. Until now our governance has been through long tradition resting in the hands of a group of women leaders, whose role is similar to the "clan mother" system used by the Haudenoshoni, or Iroquois nation, who have always chosen the chiefs who actually administer the governing of the five - and then six - nations of the Haudenoshoni. The chiefs of each member nation are always chosen by the clan mothers for their ability to govern through wisdom and wise compromise.
It is this perennial system, so like the formal structure of our own government of checks and balances - which similarity is not surprising, in view of the use by our founding fathers of the Iroquois form of governance as a model - that the council of Atalntis is proposing that we abandon. I make a speech, as eloquently as is within my power to deliver, pleading that we keep this time-honored system which has served us so well - knowing that my influence will not rule the day - and in fact, it does not. I am rejected by the leaders of the new group as deficient in the characteristics of manhood which alone can enable the government to make the right choices. I realize that my ability to influence such choices has come to an end.
I remember standing in the governmental courtyard looking upward at the rows of white columned marble buildings at the top of the cliff above me, thinking about the implications of the enormous changes we are about to make, worrying about the disasters these changes may well involve, thinking about the factors in my own life that seem to have influenced me to stand apart from the rest of the (male) governors.
I review the years of my life, remembering the sense, right from the first, that I was somehow different from other boys. Part of that sense of difference may have resulted from the fact that I was born with hip dysplasia, a badly jointed hip that made control of my body difficult at best. After several operations, I was rendered able to walk with a pronounced limp - but right from the first I was made aware of the fact that I was regarded by other boys as less than fully male, because I could not join in the athletics of their growing-up years, which was universally considered by them a prime necessity for real manhood.
I also had a deep and rewarding relationship with my mother, who was a woman of great wisdom and foresight, and who did much to prepare me for my actual role as a man, grooming me for council membership while reminding me that my position, although important, would never in itself become rewarding - at least, in the eyes of others - but would be nevertheless, very important to us all.
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